The Making of Matilda

Monday, 03 May 2021

Liz Heitmeyer • Director

Liz Heitmeyer has worked with some of Australia’s biggest TV stars but bringing the story of Matilda to life on the Scots stage this month will be a magical milestone in her career.

Matilda will be her 14th senior showcase musical since she joined Scots in 2005 as a full-time teacher. She has also directed 14 Year 9 musicals, two Year 5 and 6 musicals and at every other musical at any year level, she has either been a mentor to a new director, technical advisor, worked on costume, make-up or set building, and often done a combination of all the roles. She has helped produce the Kindergarten - Year 2 musical for the past decade.

Liz was previously Stage Manager at the HotHouse Theatre before she joined Scots. She’s worked with some of Australian television’s most iconic names such as Jacqui Weaver and John Wood but there’s an excitement about unearthing talents the likes of Mya Player and Saraya Essop, who have been cast in the role of the young Matilda, that Liz loves about school productions.

The world of Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a powerful blend of vivacious language, familiar yet surreal settings, iconic characters and a few sombre moments of darkness. These moments are more than offset by the beauty of the music, quirky comedy, theatrical magic and most importantly – the cast members themselves.

At its heart, Matilda is a celebration of youth, hope and the preciousness of children. Liz believes this has been evident in the rehearsal process and will shine through in the performances.

Tickets are on sale and we hope many in our community will come along; the cast and crew are determined to deliver an amazing show.

Mason Wise • Sound, Stage, Lighting & everything in between

Mason Wise is the brilliance behind sound and lighting for the Scots production of Matilda. He has the mindboggling task of translating director Liz Heitmeyer’s creative vision into reality using his technical expertise; a few thousand light changes here; a few thousand variations to the sound there!

Mason has been working in sound and lighting since high school, when he started his own business working on weekend gigs. He is now Venue Technician and IT Support at Scots and has the past six school productions under his belt.

For Matilda, Mason will sit with Liz for nearly two days to plot the programming of more than 80 stage lights. He will learn more than 200 director’s cues and control the audience experience – a dark and gloomy atmosphere for Trunchbull scenes, bright and fantastical for Matilda’s flight into her imagination. He will sync thousands of light changes with an equal number of sound variations and will need to think on his feet to solve technical issues, such as mic malfunctions, on the night. It’s a stressful job!

So, sit back, relax and enjoy everything about Matilda: The young artists who bring the story to life, the talent of the pit band musicians, the vision of the director and, now, your new appreciation for the man behind every sound and pulsing, fading, colour-changing, flashing light on set. 

Tickets are on sale and we hope many in our community will come along; the cast and crew are determined to deliver an amazing show.

Mya Player • Matilda

Mya Player acknowledges her mum might have got it right when she humorously labelled her daughter “a drama queen!” The Year 7 student was cast in the role of Matilda in our Showcase musical of the same name and admits she loves everything about it; being part of the crew, the anticipation of performing for an audience and the adrenalin of getting up on stage.

Mya has read the book, seen the musical in Melbourne and watched the movie but none of those compare with being part of the Scots cast for Matilda. “I know I’ll get very nervous, but it's such a good feeling when you can overcome your fear,” Mya said. “I love coming to rehearsals, being part of the cast and seeing everyone every day. I love performing. It’s been soooo much work, especially over bootcamp, but I like it and I’ll definitely want to do the musical again next year.”

Mya will share the role of Matilda with Saraya Essop and perform in the Thursday matinee and Saturday evening shows. Tickets are on sale and we hope many in our community will come along; the cast and crew are determined to deliver an amazing show.

Sophie Carr & Mitch Russell • The Acrobats

Sophie Carr and Mitch Russell will be the actors dressed in the biggest, boldest and most colourful costumes on stage when they perform as the acrobat and escapologist in Scots’ Showcase Musical, Matilda.

Sophie has plenty of experience in productions including as the lead in last year’s High School Musical, as a Year 11 drama student and acting in community performance companies. Mitch, on the other hand, had a part in the Year 9 musical and that’s it!

But despite their different acting backgrounds, both 17-year-old Year 11 students are excited about the upcoming show.

“Bootcamp was great. We’ve been working on our own most of the time but at bootcamp we were able to see how it all fits together and understand our place in the show so much better,” Mitch said. “It’s a great group of people and we’ve learned a lot. But I can’t sing - I’ve worked that out!”

Sophie has incorporated designing their costumes into her Drama course case study requirement. She promises that it will be “big and bold” unlike anything else on stage. Tickets are on sale and we hope many in our community will come along; the cast and crew are determined to deliver an amazing show.

Saraya Essop • Matilda

It’s like Saraya Essop has been preparing for the lead role of Matilda all her life. She sings, she dances and she acts so taking on the lead as a Year 5 student was completely natural and now she can’t wait for curtain-up. Saraya shares the lead role of Matilda with Mya Player and will perform on Friday night and in the Saturday matinee. 

Even a recent change to one of her dance numbers and mastering a really tricky singing segment in Naughty have not fazed her. She’s confident she’ll be on top of both in the next few days. “We changed the dance because we had to change the set and it needed to fit around that,” Saraya said. “But it shouldn’t take long. I learned the first dance in two days. I’m having fun and the best part of it is meeting new people and making friends. I’m looking forward to showing the audience how good we all are. I think it's all amazing.”

Tickets are on sale and we hope many in our community will come along; the cast and crew are determined to deliver an amazing show.